Iterative development of Vegethon: a theory-based mobile app intervention to increase vegetable consumption.13 Jun 2018
BACKGROUND: Mobile technology may serve as a cost-effective and scalable tool for delivering behavioral nutrition interventions. This research sought to iteratively develop a theory-driven mobile app, Vegethon, to increase vegetable consumption. METHODS: Development of Vegethon followed phases outlined by the IDEAS framework: 1) empathize with users (qualitative interviews, n = 18); 2) specify target behavior; 3) ground in behavioral theory; 4) ideate implementation strategies; 5) prototype potential products; 6) gather user feedback (qualitative interviews, n = 14; questionnaire, n = 41); 7) build minimum viable product; and 8) pilot potential efficacy and usability (pilot RCT, n = 17). Findings from each phase informed subsequent phases. The target population that informed intervention development was 18-50 years of age, had BMIs of 28-40 kg/m(2), and lived in the geographical area surrounding Stanford University. A full description of the final version of Vegethon is included in the paper. RESULTS: Qualitative findings that shaped initial intervention conception were: participants' interests in accountability without judgment; their desire for simple and efficient dietary self-monitoring; and the importance of planning meals in advance. Qualitative findings identified during intervention refinement were the need for a focus on vegetable self-monitoring; inclusion of vegetable challenges; simplification of features; advice and inspiration for eating vegetables; reminder notifications; and peer comparison. Pilot RCT findings suggested the initial efficacy, acceptance, and feasibility of the intervention. The final version of Vegethon enabled easy self-monitoring of vegetable consumption and included a range of features designed to engage the user (e.g., surprise challenges; leaderboard; weekly reports). Vegethon was coded for its inclusion of 18 behavior change techniques (BCTs) (e.g., goal setting; feedback; social comparison; prompts/cues; framing/reframing; identity). CONCLUSIONS: Vegethon is a theory-based, user-informed mobile intervention that was systematically developed using the IDEAS framework. Vegethon targets increased vegetable consumption among overweight adults and is currently being evaluated in a randomized controlled efficacy trial. TRIAL REGISTRATION: Clinical Trials.gov: NCT01826591.